1990: The Abergavenny run-fest

Abergavenny – seen in 1988 and the scene of a run-laden game against Worcestershire in 1990. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

1990 was the `Year of the Bat`, as county bowlers laboured all summer with an experimental style of ball with a lower seam. The upshot was that batsmen the length and breadth of the country made hay as the sun shone, and some exceptionally high scoring contests were staged.

One of these was an extraordinary game between Glamorgan and Worcestershire at Abergavenny as the Welsh county failed by just two runs to score a seemingly impossible target of 495, and on a placid pitch and sun-soaked outfield. In all, the match saw 1,641 runs being made – a record aggregate for a three-day county match,  and just 9 runs less than the Championship record, set in a four-day encounter at The Oval earlier in the summer.

The run-fest began with Worcestershire amassing 514-4 dec, with Graeme Hick, aged 24, becoming the youngest batsman to score fifty first-class hundreds. Glamorgan then replied with 327-5, with captain Alan Butcher declaring as soon as Tony Cottey reached a well made hundred. When Worcestershire batted again, Hick added another century to his tally, taking his match aggregate to 592, and past Everton Weekes` previous record of 575 set in 1950.

Hick reached this landmark on the final morning as Phil Neale, the Worcestershire captain batted on for a short while before setting Glamorgan a target of 495 in 88 overs. Despite the small boundaries on one of the country`s most picturesque grounds, this was still a stiff target, especially given the fact that Glamorgan had rarely scored more than 300 to win a game.

Openers Alan Butcher and Hugh Morris were undaunted adding 256 for the first wicket – their ninth century stand of a wonderful summer. Both made fine centuries, but after this promising start, four wickets quickly fell for 32, including Cottey and Maynard for just one apiece. However, Viv Richards was still at the crease and with a brisk 43 off just 18 balls, he reduced the requirement to 169 in the final 20 overs with 6 wickets in hand.

With the scoring rate having risen to 8 an over, Phil Neale knew that if Worcestershire were going to win, he needed to keep Glamorgan interested and to hopefully take wickets. Therefore, he brought on his occasional bowlers, and in six overs Nigel Cowley and Robert Croft smashed 75 runs. The regular bowlers came back on, but Cowley and Croft had extended their partnership to 124 in 15 overs when Cowley was caught behind off Ian Botham.

Robert Croft kept the attack going, even though 15 runs were still needed in the final over from Richard Illingworth. It looked as if Glamorgan might grab an amazing victory when Croft hit a huge six off the fourth ball. But the bowler, aiming wide of the leg stump, stifled Croft`s ambition, and Glamorgan ended two runs short at the end of an amazing contest which saw no less than 16 sixes and 249 fours being struck.

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